A former employee of a Nepean hi-tech firm has been charged with downloading porn from the Internet depicting young children performing shocking sex acts.
Heidi Wischniwsky, 32, of Gloucester, a former employee at Gandalf Canada, is charged with possessing and making child pornography.
It's the first time in the region police have charged a woman in connection with this kind of cyber crime, said Sgt. Keith Daniels.
"It's a rare case. We're not used to dealing with women in these cases", said Daniels.
On Tuesday, regional police executed a search warrant at the Nepean offices of Gandalf and seized an office computer, 10 boxes filled with about 100 floppy disks, 1,000 graphic images, and several back-up disks.
Gandalf contacted police in September after an employee discovered the material while cleaning out the hard drive of a computer, said company spokeswoman Wendy Burgess.
An internal probe was launched and police were contacted when the child pornography was found.
"We had found there had been an abuse of corporate assets", said Burgess.
It will take about a month before detectives are able to go through all the material, Daniels said.
The material includes pictures of both boys and girls under the age of 10 involved in lewd sex acts.
"There is one picture so horrific that anyone who would see it would be absolutely revolted", said Daniels.
Wischniwsky, who has no children, refused to talk to reporters at her Natalie Way home yesterday where she lives with her elderly parents. She referred all questions to her lawyer.
"She vehemently denies the charges and takes this very seriously", said lawyer Ross Stewart. "She's looking forward to clearing her name when this gets to court."
Wischniwsky worked on a network that allows different people to access and transfer files and Stewart questioned who had access to her computer.
Hired as a technical writer, Wischniwsky had access to the Internet for research purposes. Only employees who need the Internet in relation to their jobs have access to it, said Burgess.
She wouldn't explain why Wischniwsky was fired but referred to the fact Gandalf has a strict policy about employees using the Internet for personal purposes.
Wischniwsky's neighbors were stunned by the charges.
"It's shocking. I'd never expect something like this ... so close to home", said Marc Charlebois, who lives next door.
"Isn't that awful", said neighbor Rachelle Rose. "When you have grandchildren of your own ... it (hits) so close to home."
|-- With files from Stephanie Rubec|
Past Internet-related child porn charges: